Tomorrow, President Joe Biden plans to hold his first one-on-one, in-person talks as president with an African leader. He will host Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta—as war and a human welfare crisis rage in neighboring Ethiopia.
Kenya, which shares a border with Ethiopia, has long had a strong relationship with the United States. For years, Kenya has partnered with Washington in efforts to thwart Islamic terrorism.
Kenya has been relatively vocal among African nations on the war in Ethiopia. Speaking to reporters at the United Nations on Tuesday, Kenyatta said the two sides need to come to “a political resolution because we do not believe that there is any military solution.”
Kenya currently holds the presidency of the United Nations Security Council. That post rotates monthly, which is one reason Kenyatta is in the United States.
The Oval Office talks with Kenyatta come just weeks after President Biden signed an executive order threatening to impose sanctions against Ethiopia. The sanctions come as Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and other leaders continue their involvement in conflict in the Tigray region in the northernmost part of the country. President Biden’s order will take effect if steps aren’t taken soon to wind down the 11-month-old war.
The United States and United Nations say Ethiopian troops have prevented passage of trucks carrying food and other aid. They warn that hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians are living in human-made famine-like conditions as the conflict festers. Scores of people have starved to death, according to reports.
Meanwhile, Tigray forces say Ethiopia’s government has launched a major military offensive against them, trying to end the war. A statement from the Tigray external affairs office earlier this week alleges that hundreds of thousands of Ethiopian fighters launched an assault on several fronts.
The Biden administration is presently conducting a review of targets that might be affected by sanctions. The review is partly to make certain all agencies are “fully on board” with the proposed targets.
Ethiopia’s government rejects international “meddling” in its affairs. Instead, Ethiopia leaders seek to find an African solution to the crisis that has killed thousands.
The administration plans to move forward with sanctions quickly if the situation in Ethiopia doesn’t change.
President Biden’s meeting with Kenyatta comes as the Kenyan leader faces scrutiny over his and his family’s offshore financial holdings. Those holding were uncovered in the “Pandora Papers.” The “Pandora Papers” is a vast collection of more than 11 million documents which a group of journalists published earlier this month. The info leak exposed secret financial accounts of dozens of world leaders, billionaires, and celebrities.
Kenyatta is one of more than 330 current and former politicians identified as beneficiaries of the secret accounts unveiled in the reporting by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The ICIJ found that as Kenyatta publicly campaigned against corruption, his family stowed away about $30 million in offshore wealth.
A White House administration official says Pandora Papers revelations will likely be brought up during the Oval Office meeting.
By justice a king builds up the land, but he who exacts gifts tears it down. — Proverbs 29:4
(President Joe Biden speaks about the September jobs report from the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus in Washington, D.C. AP/Susan Walsh)